Man pleads guilty to pharmacy robbery

June 24th, 2015 4:55 pm

First Posted: 6/17/2013

WILKES-BARRE – A city man charged with robbing a Nanticoke pharmacy at gunpoint and getting away with painkillers pleaded guilty Monday to related charges.

Mark Steven Benjamin Sr., 41, of North Sherman Street, entered the plea to two counts of robbery and one count each of theft and a weapons charge.

Benjamin faces a maximum of 10 years in prison on one of the robbery charges when he is sentenced on Sept. 3.

Assistant District Attorney Jill Matthews Lada said prosecutors will be seeking a deadly weapon enhancement at the time of Benjamin’s sentencing.

The deadly weapon enhancement is applied to a defendant’s sentence when a judge determines the offender possessed a deadly weapon while committing the offense and when any of the following happened: the firearm was loaded or unloaded, the weapon is dangerous or the weapon can cause death or serious bodily injury, according to Pennsylvania law.

Benjamin is represented by attorney John Donovan and is free after posting $100,000 bail in July.

According to court papers, Nanticoke police responded to Spotanski’s Pharmacy on Prospect Street on June 25, 2012, after an armed robbery was reported.

Pharmacist Kathy Smith told police a man entered the store and demanded fentanyl or painkillers while pointing what appeared to be a shotgun in a large garbage bag in her direction. Smith said she could see only the end of the shotgun barrel and feared for her life.

Smith told the man she had no fentanyl but quickly gave him a bottle of generic Oxycodone and acetaminophen tablets she had in front of her. The man took the bottle and ran from the store.

A store employee told police the man, later identified as Benjamin, ran north on South Prospect Street.

A short time later, police were notified by Hanover Township police they spotted a man who fit Benjamin’s description on Middle Road near the entrance to the Hanover Industrial Park. Benjamin was pulled over in a truck owned by his mother.

Police said Benjamin told them he committed the crime, he was sorry and he had intended to sell the drugs. He told police he hid a “broken shotgun” under a bed in a spare bedroom of his mother’s house in Nanticoke, changed his shirt and hid it and a baseball cap in the truck.

Benjamin will be required to pay $105 in restitution to the pharmacy and is not permitted to enter Spotanski’s.